ART QUOTES: Henry Miller


Henry Miller “The Procession”

One of my favorite writers is Henry Miller. I came to his work after absorbing the books of a whole generation he influenced, the Beats.

I continue to love the works of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, but when I discovered Miller I found out who set the example they followed. Henry Miller surpasses them all with the exuberance of his language, his powerful imagery, his inventive obscenities, and some really thoughtful philosophic musings.

Not only did Miller write, he loved to paint as well. His observations on art and creativity are spectacular. It’s rare to find someone who can articulate the largely nonverbal process of art with such insight.

Here is a sample of Miller’s commentary,  from Book 1 of his roman à clef trilogy, The Rosy Crucifixion:

Art isn’t a solo performance; it’s a symphony in the dark with millions of participants and millions of listeners. The enjoyment of a beautiful thought is nothing to the joy of giving it expression – permanent expression. In fact, it’s almost a sheer impossibility to refrain from giving expression to a great thought. We’re only instruments of a greater power. We’re creators by permission, by grace, as it were. No one creates alone, of and by himself. An artist is an instrument that registers something already existent, something which belongs to the whole world and which, if he is an artist, he is compelled to give back to the world. To keep one’s beautiful ideas to oneself would be like being a virtuoso and sitting in an orchestra with hands folded.

-Henry Miller, Sexus

12 thoughts on “ART QUOTES: Henry Miller

  1. Okay Bledsoe. Miller is my adult life-long mentor-guru. I will get my wife and I out to one of your western shows, someday. Thanks for post. Miller truly was/is the artist’s artist. Nobody else comes close.

  2. Beautiful, powerful quote.

    The amazing thing about art is how one work influences others in unexpected ways. Henry Miller’s “White Heat/Time of the Assassins” inspired Tom Cochrane to write “White Hot,” a tribute to French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.

  3. What an interesting quotation you chose. I will have to sit quietly and reflect on those words since I think there’s so much meaning packed into just those few lines.

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